Sunday, July 31 , 2016, 3:39 am | Fog/Mist 63º

  • Follow Noozhawk on LinkedIn
  • Follow Noozhawk on Pinterest
  • Follow Noozhawk on YouTube
 
 
 
 

Local News

Jury Decides Son Was Sane When He Killed Mother

Christopher Shumey faces lengthy prison term for shooting death of Karen Shumey, a Lompoc Valley schoolteacher

A San Luis Obispo man with a history of mental illness was legally sane when he shot and killed his mother, who was a Lompoc Valley schoolteacher, a Superior Court jury decided Thursday.

Christopher Shumey, 36, now faces a prison term of 68 years to life, according to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office.

He previously had been convicted of murdering his mother, 65-year-old teacher Karen Shumey, who taught at Vandenberg Middle School.

During the second phase of his trial, jurors had to decide if he was sane at the time of the Sept. 17, 2011, slaying.

After an hour and a half of deliberation, the jury decided he was sane.

When the verdict was read, Shumey showed no emotion, as was the case throughout the trial. His father, sitting in the audience, dropped and shook his head.

While agreeing with the defense that Shumey was mentally ill, Deputy District Attorney Karen Gray said he exhibited reality-based, goal-directed behavior before, during and after the shooting.

Sometime afterward, she said, he tried to blame his mental illness to avoid prison.

Had he been found not guilty by reason of insanity, Shumey would have been sent to a mental hospital until it was deemed he was well enough to return to society.

“He clearly had a motive to exaggerate his symptoms,” Gray said after the verdict.

When contacted after the jury’s decision, defense attorney Pierre Blahnik said he was “speechless.”

During his closing argument earlier in the day, he implored the jury to consider Shumey’s entire mental health history, which dated back to his first hospitalization in 1999. The victim, recognizing her son’s worsening condition, even kept a journal of his symptoms.

“Her last act as a mother was to try to save him – to rescue him,” Blahnik told the jury, noting that Shumey’s father and brother had earlier testified to the defendant’s mental illness.

While Gray said the family was sympathetic, she said Shumey didn’t show sympathy for his mother. Shelly Dunn, a San Luis Obispo police detective who interviewed him in the day of the murder, said he showed little emotion for his mother.

“It was so cut and dry,” she said after the verdict. “It was, ‘I did it, and I’m not going to make an excuse.’”

While Shumey appeared to be hearing voices during his trial, Dunn said he didn’t do that during her interviews. But he did suggest he was angry at his mother for being overly controlling, she said.

“He was embarrassed by it, and he wanted to be independent,” she said. “I think he was just very frustrated with his own life.”

The only thing that bothered him about the murder, Dunn said, was the sound of his mother screaming after he shot her with the first of two shotgun rounds.

The gun Shumey used was stolen from his father, who had asked a police officer what to do with the gun the day before.

“If Mr. Shumey hadn’t had that firearm, I don’t think this would have happened,” Gray said.

Shumey, ho also was convicted of firing at a police officer after the murder, is set to be sentenced March 21.

Patrick S. Pemberton is a reporter with the San Luis Obispo County Tribune. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >